Aren’t drones cool? They allow us to fly like a bird, see the world from a totally new vantage point and shut down an entire airport…
Hold on, that last point wasn’t so cool. Turns out some hooligans have used drones to shut down London Gatwick, by blocking the runway with their drones.
London Gatwick is the United Kingdom’s 2nd busiest airport, full of many passengers flying on Norwegian and other discount carriers. At around 9 pm on Wednesday, the air traffic control noticed two drones flying low over the runway. The airport authority decided to close the runway until 3 am so they could be sure that the flight path was safe.
"There is a drone on my airfield as we speak."
Gatwick's chief operating officer explains why he has had to suspend all flights to and from the airport.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) December 20, 2018
Unfortunately, the drones returned at 3 am (It looks as if they knew when the runway would reopen) and the airport was closed again.
The airport has released the following statement below on their twitter.
The problem is with drones is that if they hit a window or an engine, they can cause serious damage. One only has to remember the United flight that crashed into the river in New York, it hit a bird. If a bird can bring down a plane, then you only need to imagine how much damage a drone will do.
Drone users who fly above 400ft and within 1km of airport boundaries could be jailed for five years because the small unmanned aircraft could catastrophically damage a plane if it was sucked into an engine or shattered its windscreen.
Below is a video of what happens when a plane collides with a drone.
Due to drone activity on the airfield at Gatwick, all arriving and departing flights are currently suspended. Please check with your airline before travelling to the airport today. We're sorry to everyone affected, safety is our number 1 priority . https://t.co/LN7y8GCJoN
— Gatwick Airport LGW (@Gatwick_Airport) December 20, 2018
This is especially disruptive this time of year, as many people leave London for Christmas, for holiday or to see relatives all over the world. And to find out that you can’t fly not because of weather or an airline bankruptcy, but because someone is joy riding a drone over the runway must be especially frustrating.
This has caused many people to be trapped at the Airport, on planes, and in the terminal. Those that got a hotel for the night can count themselves lucky, as any accommodation in the area was quickly swallowed up.
‘I and my family, along with many others, have been here for six hours. We were offered a hotel only for that to be rescinded shortly afterwards. People sleeping on floor in south terminal, utter shambles’. – Eddie Boyes, who was caught in the chaos.
Many others have been trapped in other airports, as the delays cascade across Europe and to North America.
The local police are currently tracking the drones and trying to find out who is operating them.
“The police have 20 units out looking for the operator of that drone, and once they find them, they will bring them to justice, which is five years imprisonment for endangering an aircraft’. – Airport Authority
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.